So many people ask, “Why on earth would you try and breed a dressage horse, when you can more easily buy one?”
The answers, gleaned from a multitude of people vary considerably.
Some people just don’t have the finances available to them to go out and buy a really good youngster they look on breeding one rather like HP, knowing full well it will cost them the same if not more in the long run. Whilst breeding has ZERO guarantee of getting you “that world class superstar” that most dressage riders dream of, it does give you the potential to breed something special if you use the best stallion and mare available to you. Using AI, opens up a wealth of possibilities, as we now have access to some very exciting stallions from around the world. People often refer to buying horses as buying other people’s problems, with breeding you bring up your foal your way, knowing all its quirks and foibles, hopefully with no nasty surprises along the way.
Some people breed because they own a really special mare who was a very good competition horse for them, she may have been retired due to age or sidelined with a devastating career ending injury. Apart from the sentiment involved is the confidence that they know the mare and her character traits and find them desirable, some very talented mares have been lost to the competition world due to injury at least with breeding their abilities are not wasted and lost forever. Regardless of the ever changing and improving world of dressage she is still a proven known entity. South Africa may have only recently started competing at GP level so the older mares have not had the advantage of training to that level; it is however felt that they have proven their mental and physical trainability by competing to the highest that SA used to offer. Coupling this with some of the fantastic stallions on offer provides for some real dream achieving potential. For these optimists it is often the belief that their “special mare” will in turn provide something special to continue with. A legacy of greatness if you like!
We found a third group of people the people for whom the “breeding bug” bit. For these people it is somewhat akin to being an artist looking at a blank canvas. Studying up on the pedigrees and getting a picture or “feel” for what a given mating will produce. Every prospective mating is the glimmer of a dream, every foal born is seeing that dream realized and then watching them on the long path to GP is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Every new mating presents the opportunity of improving on the old dream, more elasticity or articulation, a better hindquarter or temperament or even a “better” colour. The dream is ever evolving always alive and tantalizingly just enough out of reach to keep us straining towards it.
I often hear people saying that breeding is a mug’s game. True it does come with no guarantees and it can in fact involve huge heartache and expense, but I ask you, what dream doesn’t? The best part of breeding is the opportunity to dream, to start a personal journey and watch your dream mature and one day trot down the centerline whether it is you in the saddle or proudly watching from the arena surround.
Article by Mandy Schroder
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